PHOTO: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fortune/Time Inc
Now playing
01:08
The number of female Fortune 500 CEOs is shrinking
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
03:39
YouTube CEO on election misinformation and QAnon
PHOTO: Shutterstock
Now playing
05:18
3M CEO: Meeting demand for N95 masks is still a challenge
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 17:  Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky speaks onstage during "Introducing Trips" Reveal at Airbnb Open LA on November 17, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for Airbnb)
PHOTO: Mike Windle/Getty Images North America
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 17: Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky speaks onstage during "Introducing Trips" Reveal at Airbnb Open LA on November 17, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for Airbnb)
Now playing
03:29
Airbnb CEO: The travel industry is more resilient than anyone thought
MANCHESTER, NH - FEBRUARY 8: Republican Presidential candidate Carly Fiorina holds "Coffee With Carly" at Blake's Restaurant February 8, 2016 in Manchester, New Hampshire. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Darren McCollester/Getty Images
MANCHESTER, NH - FEBRUARY 8: Republican Presidential candidate Carly Fiorina holds "Coffee With Carly" at Blake's Restaurant February 8, 2016 in Manchester, New Hampshire. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:17
She was a trailblazing CEO. Then fired. Why Carly Fiorina doesn't regret it
Now playing
03:06
She went from high school dropout to SF Fed president
Now playing
03:28
Marc Benioff: Capitalism is dead
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
03:50
Microsoft President: There is a privacy crisis
PHOTO: Angela Weiss/Getty Images
Now playing
03:09
Winklevoss twins on crypto: Wall Street has been asleep at the wheel
PHOTO: Ari Perilstein/Getty Images North America
Now playing
03:14
SoulCycle CEO on the Peloton threat
Google CEO Sundar Pichai poses for a portrait at the Mayes County Google Data Center in Pryor, Oklahoma, June 13, 2019. Nick Oxford for CNN
PHOTO: Nick Oxford for CNN
Google CEO Sundar Pichai poses for a portrait at the Mayes County Google Data Center in Pryor, Oklahoma, June 13, 2019. Nick Oxford for CNN
Now playing
03:32
Sundar Pichai: I never asked to be Google CEO
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 05: Melinda Gates speaks onstage at Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations at PlayStation Theater on February 05, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for THR)
PHOTO: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for THR
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 05: Melinda Gates speaks onstage at Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations at PlayStation Theater on February 05, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for THR)
Now playing
01:41
Melinda Gates calls for paid family leave
Now playing
02:58
Weight Watchers CEO says it will survive the Keto craze
RANCHO PALOS VERDES, CA - FEBRUARY 07:  Executive Editor, Recode Kara Swisher attends The 2017 MAKERS Conference Day 2 at Terranea Resort on February 7, 2017 in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.  (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for AOL)
PHOTO: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images North America/Getty Images for AOL
RANCHO PALOS VERDES, CA - FEBRUARY 07: Executive Editor, Recode Kara Swisher attends The 2017 MAKERS Conference Day 2 at Terranea Resort on February 7, 2017 in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for AOL)
Now playing
03:14
Kara Swisher: Tech companies need ethics officers with power
CULVER CITY, CA - JUNE 09:  Gwyneth Paltrow speaks onstage at the In goop Health Summit at 3Labs on June 9, 2018 in Culver City, California.  (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for goop)
PHOTO: Getty Images
CULVER CITY, CA - JUNE 09: Gwyneth Paltrow speaks onstage at the In goop Health Summit at 3Labs on June 9, 2018 in Culver City, California. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for goop)
Now playing
02:51
Why Gwyneth Paltrow feels like an impostor CEO

Life is easier when you have someone in your corner who understands what you’re going through, especially if you’re a woman in the C-suite or want to be.

That’s the idea behind Chief, a private club for women executives that helps them ascend to the top ranks and stay there.

Launched this year by Lindsay Kaplan, a former vice president at mattress company Casper, and Carolyn Childers, a former senior vice president at home cleaning services company Handy HQ, the club connects members to each other in a variety of ways. Each member, for instance, is matched with 8 to 10 professional peers who are in the same age group. The groups meet regularly to talk about life and career issues and the discussion is moderated by an executive coach.

Chief also regularly sponsors events like poker night, career development workshops and small dinners and salons with a top business leader, such as venture capitalist Susan Lyne of BBG Ventures and Jet.com founder Marc Lore.

The bar to become a member is pretty high: Chief only accepts executives with a vice president title or higher. The annual membership fee is $7,800 for C-suite executives and $5,400 for everyone else. Men may join if they share the philosophy that more women should be in leadership positions.

There are four basic rules members are asked to follow: Show up for each other and for club events. Check your BS at the door. Keep what’s shared confidential. And “meet your fellow members where they are, talking to them based on your experience, not your opinion,” Childers and Kaplan said.

Chief recently hosted a dinner for members with venture capitalist Susan Lyne, who says in her bio that "her biggest wins have all come from listening to, building for and betting on women."
PHOTO: Courtesy of Chief
Chief recently hosted a dinner for members with venture capitalist Susan Lyne, who says in her bio that "her biggest wins have all come from listening to, building for and betting on women."

What members are saying

Chief member Kristin Davie, 51, a senior vice president of global production at fitness company Peloton, re-entered the workforce full-time at age 43, after spending a dozen years as a stay-at-home mom who kept her foothold professionally by doing short-term assignments.

Davie said her core group has been “just what I needed.”

What she finds especially helpful is how supportive and encouraging those in the group are to each other. “How easy it is when someone’s struggling for everyone else to see how strong and able that woman is and say you’re not giving yourself enough credit,” Davie said.

Karen Pascoe, 50, a senior vice president of user design experience at Mastercard, said she joined Chief because she wanted to make an investment in herself, to better articulate her capabilities and to learn from others what taking on a broader set of responsibilities looks like.

“[It’s great] to have a cohort that’s a sounding board and a critical peer group that can poke holes in my thinking,” Pascoe said, noting that her group helps her see where she has blind spots but in a “very nonthreatening, noncompetitive” way.

Arielle Patrick, 30, a corporate wunderkind who is already a senior vice president and transactions director at communications firm Edelman, said she is learning a lot from other members about how they handle the stress of balancing a high-powered career with having a family.

“I’m learning what’s possible, and how it works,” Patrick said. “Lindsay [Kaplan] is a perfect example. She’ll tell me some war story about getting her kid to bed but then we share ideas about VC funding.”

Career workshops are another benefit offered to members at Chief's clubhouse in New York City.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Chief
Career workshops are another benefit offered to members at Chief's clubhouse in New York City.

In fact, Patrick noted many of the conversations she’s had with other club members focus less on work than on life and what fulfillment looks like.

Another big benefit for her is the Slack channel for members, which she finds is a great way to share new business opportunities.

Saloni Varma, a 39-year-old VP of finance at yogurt maker Chobani, joined Chief “to network with women who are like-minded and are at a similar stage in their career.”

Varma has an eye toward becoming a chief financial officer. But, she said, “I don’t want to set myself up for failure. I want to ensure I’m ready for it.” It really opened her eyes when a member of her core group told her, “A guy would never think like that.”

She’s also been eager to improve her communication skills in group settings and on investor calls. She’s found that a club workshop with a communications specialist, as well as the experience of fellow club members, have been very helpful to her.

The struggle to reach gender parity in the C-suite

Chief is just five months old. But it already has 500 members. While it’s currently based in New York City, it has a waiting list of applicants from across the United States as well as abroad, the cofounders said.

Kaplan and Childers see that pent up demand to create chapters elsewhere as a “Bat-Signal.”

While the experience of women climbing the corporate ladder has improved over the years, there’s still miles to go to achieve a level playing field.

“Sponsorship is a challenge. There’s a case to be made that it’s harder for women … to get someone to champion and advocate for you and let the organization know not only what you’ve done but what you’re capable of doing,” Pascoe said.

Gatherings like poker night are just one of the ways Chief is solidifying a network of high-powered women.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Chief
Gatherings like poker night are just one of the ways Chief is solidifying a network of high-powered women.

Davie spoke of the more pervasive cultural influences that result in women being more reluctant than men to advocate on their own behalf.

“I was raised to be grateful for any job someone gave me and whatever they wanted to pay me. Most of my male colleagues weren’t raised that way,” she said.

Davie’s fellow members at Chief remind her “not to fall back into those old norms.”